Sunday, 30 January 2011

Encore Awards: Supporting Actors

The first acting category...last year this category was overflowing with brilliance, and truth be told my five nominees from last year would probably knock every single nominee of this year out, Schneider's work in Bright Star is sooooooo good (not better than Whishaw, of course, but still great). Still, the supporting men were good this year and I like each of these performances. They didn't all get that Oscar love I wish they could have, but that doesn't negate the goodness of their work.

(click on the pictures for reviews)

Christian Bale in The Fighter (as Dickie)
Bale avoids the most obvious of pitfalls and avoids turning Dickie into one of those usual walking powder-keg drug addicts. Sure, he gets the physicality of a user down excellently – with every bodily twitch, but the performance has much more to offer. As riveting as he is in those moments, it’s the emotional bits where he shines. As good as he is with Mark his best moments are opposite Melissa Leo (a dynamic I’d have loved to see more of) and despite his overt lack of restraint his devotion to his family rings throughout the drama. (Highlight: “I Started A Joke”)

Andrew Garfield in The Social Network (as Eduardo Saverin)
I hate that his obvious “actor” scenes are the ones that people keep remembering because the reasons I like this performance so much comes to the smaller bits. He knows Mark is an asshole, but he also knows they’re both similar in that desire for kinship (even though Mark is adamantly against social contact). He responds to every action from Mark, but he doesn’t really respond to Mark – and I’m not sure if its Fincher’s direction or his sensibilities but with every wince (blink and you’ll miss them) or slight intake of breath he’s making Eduardo more than the just token wronged friend and into a real person, which sounds sort of clichéd but is true nonetheless. (Highlight: The Chicken incident, at the deposition and at Harvard)

Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right (as Paul)
I think I tweeted sometime towards the end of last year that Paul is probably the most sympathetic character in the narrative. They’re all moving in their way, but this bathetic man child becomes the most stirring because Ruffalo is doing so much with it. It’s not that he gives my favourite performance of the film (he doesn’t) but it’s a classic example of script and actor finding a perfect match. He doesn’t even seem aware of Paul’s insecurities because Paul isn’t even aware of his insecurities, and those lingering glances and bits of stilted conversation only underscore the sort of wandering soul he is. And he does it all without EVER going over-the-top with it. (Highlight: First Meeting with Moms)

Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech (as Lionel Logue)
Rush avoids his usual theatricality (which I’m actually fond of) for a surprisingly tender portrayal of Logue here. Even though a significant portion of the narrative examines his relationship with the King, Seidler doesn’t explain his arc fully which leaves Logue as something of an enigma at times and Rush has no problem doing that. Sometimes it seems as if he’s usual tricks but that soft empathy with which he approaches Bertie is significant allowing him to dig deeper. One of the lasting things about the film is that you get the feeling there’s more to the man – but neither he (nor the film) is interested in going there. He’s willing to step aside.
(Highlight: First Meeting with “Mrs. Johnson”)

Sullivan Stapleton in Animal Kingdom (as Craig)
He has the sort of “open” face that makes it distressing to watch him, especially when you take into consideration how much he underplays the addiction arc – saving all that pent-up desperation only to completely destroy you when he unhinges in that final scene – well more than he was before. He’s already unhinged, not in the same manner as Mendehlson’s Pope, but just as much. His entire final scene played on a loop after coming out of the movie and it’s startling how with the absence of dialogue and even without the very overt facial tics that you’d expect, he manages to convey that nadir of despair that’s responsible for thrusting the narrative in a new destroy. (Highlight: his death)
FINALISTS: Joel Edgerton leaves Animal Kingdom early on but that doesn’t prevent his Baz from having a lasting effect. ; Rhys Ifans gives a performance to rival the already good cast in Greenberg; Miles Teller functions as well as Eckhart, Wiest and Blanchard as a scene partner for Kidman in Rabbit Hole. He’s fortunate because Becca’s breakthrough moments come opposite him, and he plays excellently off her offering up a not clichéd example of how more than the grieving parties are victims of accidents.

SEMI-FINALISTS: Don Cheadle plays on the angry policemen in Brooklyn’s Finest to excellent results, showing again why he’s one of the best underrated actors at the moment; Kieran Culkin ends up stealing the show from everyone in Scott Pilgrim vs the World because even if his acerbic sidekick is a stereotype his line readings are hilarious; Andrew Garfield in Never Let Me Go; with just a few scenes to work with in The King’s Speech I finally get what people are talking about with Guy Pearce. He’s the right amount of EVERYTHING in the film and works so perfectly against Firth; Jonathan Tucker’s introverted psychiatric patient is one of the saving graces of Veronika Decides to Die. It’s more than his remarkable chemistry with Gellar – his attention to detail (which the script demands in those scenes where he has no dialogue) is impressive.
What do you think of my nominees? Who would you toss out? Who would you bring in?


Stevee Taylor said...

Amen to the Andrew Garfield love!

And I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who thought Kieran Culkin stole the show in Scott Pilgrim. I'm in lesbians with him.

Plus, Sullivan Stapleton is also amazing in Animal escapes me as to why he didn't get noticed that much!

Alex in Movieland said...

I don't understand the passion for Ruffalo in general... his acting style does nothing for me (maybe a bit in You Can Count on Me, but that's it). I thought this year he was pretty bad in Shutter Island, to a point it got distracting.

otherwise, Garfield-Bale-Rush probably make my top 3 so far.

MovieNut14 said...

I think Garfield's best scene is when he finally stands up to Mark. That scene literally had me thinking, "Get this kid nominated."

Simon said...

I hate Geoffrey Rush's face in that still.

Brandon (Twister) said...

Just saw The Kids Are All Right, and I am totally with you on Ruffalo's deserving (semi-surprise) nomination, that he makes my own ballot (look out for it soon!). It's a simple, modest performance that struck a chord; the movie may not completely respect Paul (leaving him hanging) but Ruffalo certainly does.

Also, what the HELL is with all of the Bening buzz and hype!? It's a shallow, unsympathetic performance of a shallow and irritating role. I'm sorry, but, Moore gives the Best Actress performance of the film by far, and I'm shocked that she's been overlooked even by Oscar when Annette doesn't even really deserve the nom.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

What a great year for this category, that four of the frontrunners show up here, three of which were nominated for Oscar. Stapleton's inclusion surprised me, though I know you adore Animal Kingdom, because I worry few will remember him. He, Edgerton and Pearce were my favorites in the film, so I'm happy to see him recognized by someone I admire.